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cdlftw

Gift for Dad: Explorer 150P / 150PL?

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Hi all,

I’m thinking about purchasing a scope as a Christmas present for my Father, but a little unsure about what to buy. I think (after weeks of looking!) I can rule out the Meade ETX 70’s etc… (which I considered for portability, as my Father spends 3 months of the year in France – might still be an issue?), and can settle on a 150P or 150PL. I did rather fancy the 150PL, as I keep reading about how it’s longer focal length is better for planets etc… greater magnification from cheaper lenses, and that it can be upgraded in the future with motors etc… *if* he decides he would like to get into astrophotography. Now I’ve just read a thread which Steve@FLO commented on, saying that the 150P now has a 2” Crayford focuser and a Direct SLR connection and is now the ‘scope of choice’…

Can someone please offer advice on what I should be thinking about?

My major thoughts are that I would like to get my father a scope that will be sufficient for quite a few years, and that can be ‘expanded/upgraded’ rather than totally replaced – hence going for a 150mm rather than a 70mm GOTO scope or something. Portability is probably not an issue, although if you have any comments, they would be appreciated.

I’m not 100% sure what will be his main focus for the scope, as all I remember is being fascinated looking at the moon through an old cheap Tasco when I was very young.

(Can you see ‘galaxies’ with either of these, or do you need to take 10 minute open shutter pics? Also, is there a site which gives images taken on various scopes?)

I look forward to any and all responses! I'm wanting to order from FLO by the end of the day if possible :)

Many thanks,

Craig.

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You can see Andromeda with the naked eye in a good dark site so you should see it with these scopes, it'll still look like a grey smudge though.

As for P vs PL: the longer focal length means cheaper lenses will perform better but it will be that much harder to transport as it is that much longer. Having a 2" focuser is nice: my favourite eyepiece is a wide angle low power eyepiece in my F/5 scope which needs the 2" barrel at such a low power, but I "had" to get a more expensive eyepiece (Aero Vs Panaview) as faster scopes are (so I'm told) less forgiving.

If you don't think your father will get into astrophotography I'd have a look at the 200p dob, even more aperture for your money. I'd also look at the Startravel scopes, less aperture for what you're paying for the 150p but no worries about collimation and I believe they are generally considered better for planets due to improved contrast (though I would get a heftier mount than the EQ1).

Edited by Matthew.Blake

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Startravel scopes

Maybe not the Startravel series as these are the f5 models and planets are not their thing. But certainly the Evostar series are very good. Also, Celestron have their Omni XLT120 in the sale section. Basically the same as the Evostar but currently a lot cheaper. At f8.3 it too should be easier on the eyepieces, shouldn't need collimating and a good looking scope to boot. May stand up to being carted across Europe and back better than a newt.

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It sounds like he is a visual oriented observer. Will he be transporting the scope in a car to France? If yes, I would consider the largest aperture dob I could afford (forget the tripod mounted units).

Skywatcher has a series of "flex tube" dobs that are much less "bulky" to transport (Note: these are not "truss" tube). Flex tube is a great option if you can afford it, but either way I would get as much aperture as I could afford and as much focal length as I could easily transport. For me that is an 8" dob, but it does not have a flex tube because I wanted the computer locator (not available on the flex tube skywatcher scopes at the time).

Edited by jimhaleysscomet

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Either way you go a 6" (150mm) aperture f8 scope is easy to lift and fairly easy to transport in a car. And yes, a 2" focuser is a great thing to have on ANY scope.

Edited by jimhaleysscomet

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It sounds like he is a visual oriented observer. Will he be transporting the scope in a car to France? If yes, I would consider the largest aperture dob I could afford (forget the tripod mounted units).

I'm not sure about transporting it to be honest. When I was thinking of getting one initially, I thought he may want to take it over to France in the car, as there is very little light pollution where they go so the sky is VERY dark, and never cloudy! I'm wondering now whether it's practical or not. Purely from the point of view of it bumping around in the boot for 7 hours, and from the size I guess.

I'm thinking more now along the lines of getting a reasonable scope like the 150P/PL that he can just use at home in England, and store in the garage or in a spare bedroom. I'm a little concerned however that the size of the PL might put him off getting it out for an hour or so, so maybe get the P. Is that really a problem? (I have measured out 1200mm vs 750mm and there's quite a bit of difference!)

I like the idea of the GoTo scopes, because of the immediacy of the viewing - but he's quite mathematically minded, so EQ scopes should come relatively easy with practice.

The reason behind the scope in the first place is that he's close to retirement and has a lot of free time, and I think he could do with a hobby. I remember as a child he had a cheap telescope and used to spend LOTS of time looking at the moon and stars. He's not the kind of person to spend money on himself, so I'd like to be able to set him up with the best 'base' for wherever astronomy may take him.

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Best bang for buck - biggest aperture dob you can afford... I'm 1000% technically minded, but the 12" dob (which would be too big to transport to France in a family car) is the best purchase I could have made.

I second the idea of an 8" collapsible dob. Add to that a couple of sky charts, a telrad finder and you're away... Although you may find he starts getting a penchant for good quality wide angle eyepieces :)

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Best bang for buck - biggest aperture dob you can afford... I'm 1000% technically minded, but the 12" dob (which would be too big to transport to France in a family car) is the best purchase I could have made.

I second the idea of an 8" collapsible dob. Add to that a couple of sky charts, a telrad finder and you're away... Although you may find he starts getting a penchant for good quality wide angle eyepieces :)

Sorry, I forgot to mention, but unfortunately £200 is about my budget, although I can stretch maybe £20 more.

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the TAL1 got a good review, thats just shy of £200.

they are advertized on first light optics web site (includes review)

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Hello Craig,

This is the classic starter scope and is VERY capable and upgradeable....

Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian

It's very simple and quick to setup and use BUT at a later point it can easily be adapted to fit a motorised mount for automatic tracking and photography. Optically it will be excellent for both deep sky and planets and as the mirror is deep inside the tube your dad will not need to worry about dew. Dobsonians represent the best value for money scope bar none and your dad will get years of pleasure from it.

I have the 200mm version and it is excellent.

HTH

Edited by dweller25

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im in the transition stage of bins to scopes so i know where your coming from :)

did you have a look at the TAL1 ?

Edited by nicnac

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Hello Craig,

This is the classic starter scope and is VERY capable and upgradeable....

Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian

HTH

Dweller25, what would make you recommend this over the Explorer 150P - isn't it the same scope but a Dob rather than on an EQ mount? Wouldn't the EQ mount offer the best (easiest) upgrade path, allowing for motors etc... whereas the Dob will require a new mount completely?

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im in the transition stage of bins to scopes so i know where your coming from :)

did you have a look at the TAL1 ?

I did, I read the review too. The review mentioned it was decent for £165 in 2006, but it's £195 in 2009/2010?! Also, isn't 110mm quite small in comparison with the 130's and 150's (I keep reading aperture is everything)? I'm just a little unsure what makes it so expensive in comparison, as this seems closer to the SkyHawk 1145 which I could get for the same price with a GoTo mount?

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The attraction of any Dobsonian is the setup time. It can be carried from the house/garage in one piece put down and you can start viewing instantly. If it starts to rain you can pack up quickly too. The price is very attractive if you are not sure if your dad will take to it or not. The scope operates at F/8 so at 1200mm focal length collimation will be very easy indeed and it will have quite a small secondary - that will allow your dad to easily get pin sharp images.

The 150P is also a good choice but will need longer to setup as it's on an equatorial mount. You have to ensure it's pointing due north for best results. It must also be checked to ensure it's level and you will need to carefully balance the counterweights to ensure smooth operation. Also at F/5 collimation becomes more critical and the larger secondary obstruction will degrade the image more than in the F/8 version.

Ultimately an equatorial mount and the F/8 scope is the way to go for the best all rounder.

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Its a little smaller, im getting the 150P myself but that costs a bit more than your planned budget, not by much if you check out Telescope house web site

i have been researching the TAL brand for a while now and it seems to be held in high regard by many and as the review said its perfectly capable and a solid bit of kit.

The Russian or the Chinese ??, i know where im going :)

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Ultimately an equatorial mount and the F/8 scope is the way to go for the best all rounder.

Does the inclusion of a 2" Crayford focuser on the 150P but not the 150PL affect this decision? (1.25" R&P on 150PL)

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I had a Tal scope and it was superb optically and very well built. You have to pay more for that sort of quality. The 150 nicnac is getting will be great.

Edited by dweller25

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i had a problem on this 1 i couldnt work out which 1 i wanted the 150P or PL but my final choice is the P because the P is better at viewing messier objects and theres many more messier objects then planets so it will be better for me, i thought at start that i was more into planets but now iv been thinking about it id rather go for looking at messier objects. and it is said that the P is always better for astrophotography.

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I guess one thing to consider is that for astrophotography the eq3-2 may struggle a little if your dad wants to add things like a guide scope etc. So really it's making sure you get the right tube for his needs. I would support looking at the dob, as your dad can enjoy easy set ups and quick observing and then later buy the right mount for his astrophotography needs as and when he gets there.

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Ive been using a 150PL with a motorised EQ3/2 for imaging and viewing since I started (October), which is now for sale in the For Sale section (funnily enough!).

I can say that because of the longer focal length, it was easier to keep collimated than the 200P I now use (better light gathering and framing, although alot bulkier).

As for photography, with the PL at prime focus you couldnt get all of M45 in shot but M1, Andromeda, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, nebula in Orion and Whirlpool were all easy targets and I had some success up to 60 seconds with a carefully Polar Aligned and Balanced stand. Again, focusing on the 150PL was alot easier, it has a bigger "sweet spot" so is more forgiving.

Also, remember that £200 is a reasonable amount to spend on a respectable setup to see if you'll take to the hobby or not and get going in photography if you want. You'll not lose alot if you end up selling the equipment at a later date.

Anyone wanting to take up Astrophography in a big way will probably sell their initial setup anyway and upgrade to a HEQ5 or EQ6 with the relevant scope, so either a 150P or PL on an eq3/2 really is alot of fun for the money and both are great "all rounders".

To be honest, if I wasnt getting into Astrophotography, I wouldnt be selling my PL for a while yet because theres so much to see through it on a clear night, Saturns on its way at a more reasonable time soon :)

Polar Alignment and Balancing take all of 5 minutes so dont let that put you off, this is a great forum and any questions you or your Dad will have will be answered dilligently here I'm sure. Do also consider the Dob option if you think its use will be purely visual, they aren't called "Light Buckets" for nowt!

I don't remember how and why I discovered this hobby, but I do remember Jupiter in particular with three moons the first time I looked through my Scope was a stunning sight. Have fun whatever you decide, I just thought I'd share my newb experience with you.

Edited by PhoenixRising

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I purchased a 150P as my first telescope a couple of months months back and I am very pleased with my choice. :)

Initally the EQ mount was a bit strange and it did take a little while to set up however, it soon becomes second nature. If like me you have to store your telescope indoors, a couple of minutes extra setting up the mount is an irrelevance, given you have to wait for it to cool.

I am also impressed with how compact the mount and tripod are for transportation. They take up very little space in the car boot. Perhaps a consideration if you think your Dad will want to take the telescope to France?

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